Noting that the FBI was focusing on madame-figure Ghislaine Maxwell in its investigation into Jeffrey Epstein – and noting the many parallels in the cases of Epstein and Anthony Bourdain as they relate to the ‘weaponized suicide’ conspiracy theory paradigm – I looked a bit into Maxwell and was very surprised how easy it was to link her family to Russian intelligence. In addition, as an update I’ll note defector John Mark Dougan’s role in the Epstein case which makes me close to completely certain the conspiracy theories tied to it can only logically be the artifacts of a Russian information operation.
Ghislaine Maxwell’s father was the shady businessman Robert Maxwell, who operated a publishing empire which he’d embezzled hundreds of millions of British pounds from before his 1991 death (a death also surrounded by conspiracy theories). In life, he was rumored to be an asset of intelligence agencies like MI6, Mossad, and even the KGB. It doesn’t seem contested he had high level connections in Britain, the US, Israel, and Russia which he maintained.
I found it interesting that it was Seymour Hersh who first controversially identified Robert Maxwell as a Mossad agent in his book ‘The Samson Option’. (Hersh is a prestige journalist, but he seems also quite a bit like the Glenn Greenwald of his day, as though he’s a clearing house for Russian intelligence and disinformation. Here’s a small list of his stories I’ve compiled which no doubt show alignment with Russian information strategy over time.)
However contrary to Hersh’s depiction, it seems the UK Foreign Office’s (FO) Information Research Department (IRD) had described Maxwell in Cold War-era internal files as someone who had been repeatedly brought to their attention over the years and was “a thoroughly bad character and almost certainly financed by Russia”. In fact, it seems when accused of the hundreds of millions in pounds embezzled from his company, Maxwell improbably described it as “Foreign Office tripe”.
While circumstantial, this set of information suggests that a journalist with a long history of reinforcing an information line beneficial to Russia and Communism may have “outed” Maxwell as a Mossad agent, but that Maxwell was suspected by the FO of being a Russian spy, and his own comments derivative from his ethical scandal suggest no affinity for the FO. I would take the word of an internal FO memo over that of Seymour Hersh. That is, I trust the strategy of the FO IRD is to support the UK informationally, whilst the strategy of Seymour Hersh seems to be to support Russia informationally.
Coupled with rumors that Maxwell was also a business associate of top Russian mob figure Semion Moglivevich , whatever ‘overlap’ there may have been in his loyalty to Israel of Russia seems to be weighed heavier on the ‘Russia’ side of the equation.
To be fair to Hersh (and I haven’t read or scanned through the book), Robert Maxwell did seem to have a similar background to figures like Louis Dolivet, Michael Olian, or Armand Hammer who may have had strong anti-fascist motivations to work with Russia based on the circumstances of the Holocaust. Due to this kind of background, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to suggest Maxwell could have had reciprocally sympathetic links with Israel somehow. But I still strongly assert that Hersh’s history requires serious scrutiny for its consistent enablement of anti-Western conspiracism over the years. This case may be no different.
Robert Maxwell was found dead of apparent heart-lung failure (officially) floating in the water near his luxury yacht off the Canary Islands in 1991, shortly after the publication of Hersh’s ‘The Samson Option’ (which Maxwell had filed a lawsuit against Hersh for). With Maxwell dead and the threat of lawsuit dissipated, Hersh then seemed to claim ‘he had much more to divulge about the flamboyant publisher’. It seems most of the conspiracy theories about the Maxwell death seem to be whether he was elaborately assassinated by an intelligence agency, and others preferring an explanation of suicide or accidental death to natural causes.
In this sense, it is quite interesting that Robert Maxwell and the conspiracy theories surrounding his death (esp. that he was killed by an intelligence agency) seem a lot like an earlier iteration of the Palfrey, Bourdain, or Epstein conspiracies around weaponized suicide. These are all potentially linked to Russian information strategy, although the Robert Maxwell stories don’t seem to have an apparent sexual dimension like the modern narratives do. Assuming the most prominent conspiracies implicated Mossad in the murder of Maxwell (which they seem to), certainly they would reinforce the Seymour Hersh narrative line. Hersh’s reporting has contributed to Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism / anti-Zionismin this sense.
Therefore, Hersh’s reporting on Maxwell can be seen as enabling a full-spectrum conspiracy theory – plausibly appealing to the extreme (communist) left on one hand, and to the extreme (‘neo-Nazi’) right on the other – all underpinned by a conspiracy about Israel. My belief is this kind of thing is often attributable to Russia.
Another overlapping aspect of the weaponized suicide conspiracy theory which does however interact with political sex conspiracy can be potentially seen here. This is an example which may suggest some informational redundancy that supports using the Epstein case as part of an anti-establishment sexual conspiracy theory via a reflection on the history of the Maxwells.
In short, Christine Maxwell (Ghislaine’s sister) is married to the son of a prominent astrophysicist named Frank Malina, who was associated with the Jack Parsons sex magic crowd and even L. Ron Hubbard. This is a close association to both Scientology and the Aleister Crowley-type of magic (at times apparently associated with espionage activities). Either sex magic and/or Scientology may be pertinent in the prior cases of Cathriona White, Anthony Bourdain, and Deborah Jeane Palfrey who seem relatable to ‘weaponized suicide’ narratives.
To be clear, I have never found evidence that Scientology is a Russian operation, but I have looked for a connection – and there do at times seem to be overlaps between Scientology and Russian information strategy beyond just the ‘Operation Snow White’ case or the so-called ‘KGB tactics’ of Scientology. I’ve usually started with the assumption that (assuming he wasn’t lying about it) L. Ron Hubbard could have been recruited to a foreign intelligence service (such as Russia’s) due to his naval signals intelligence background (which seems to be a common profile of past intelligence assets like John Walker). Such an association might help explain some of the anti-American/ anti-establishment behavior and also success of Scientology to me.
But obviously the sex kompromat angle seems important too. In addition, it is interesting that Scientology was apparently connected to at least one prostitution ring I am aware of which preceded the later ‘DC Madam(e)’ – Deborah Jeane Palfrey. Narratives around the Palfrey death were supported by both Infowars and Larry Flynt’s investigator Dan Moldea (who had previously been inspired to similarly write about Jimmy Hoffa – and enable a generation of conspiracism – based on Hersh’s ‘groundbreaking’ research).
(Anecdotally, the NXVIM sex cult is derived from Scientology doctrine as well. I’d already decided to stop writing about the charred and smoldering carcass of Michael Avenatti‘s public persona by the point it hit the news but it is another potential instance which may link him back to Scientology too – beyond just Cathriona White, or much more circumstantially Stormy Daniels.)
The final piece of all this which makes me more or less certain of a Russian involvement in the propagation of the modern conspiracy theories online is the case of John Mark Dougan, who is a former US Marine and Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy who copied department evidence related to the Epstein case and fled to Russia in 2016. He’d quit the Palm Beach County sheriff in 2009 after accusing his colleagues of ‘child molestation, corruption, and Nazism’. These themes are very similar to those present in Pizzagate, QAnon, etc. which would emerge shortly after his ‘defection’ in online conspiracy theory.
Dougan claims to have evidence on Epstein-associate, UK royal Prince Andrew which he accuses the FBI of withholding, and MI6 may have concerns that Dougan has already passed this info to Russians. Much like Edward Snowden, Dougan improbably claims he does not provide his information to the Russians but will release them in order to protect his safety if needed.
Thus it does seem to be quite interesting that when you look at Ghislaine Maxwell’s family in relation to Jeffrey Epstein’s plausible motivations for suicide (as you may look at Asia Argento’s family in the context of Anthony Bourdain’s motivations to suicide), there is a very strong aspect which links back to apparent sex-based conspiracism and Russian influence which may inform the Epstein conspiracy theories, as well as prior, similar ‘weaponized suicide’ narratives. In this case, Maxwell’s role as a ‘madame’ with incriminating evidence on elites, a family history linked to both Russian intelligence and the sex-magic movement, as well as a history of similar conspiracy theories in her own family locates her centrally in a ‘Venn diagram’ of weaponized suicide narratives attributable to Russia. If you dig here, you can only find more.